The Jewish book of prayer came to be known as the Siddur, which means order (of the services). The uninitiated, however, finds in the Siddur nothing but confusion. G. E. Biddle describes the Siddur from the point of view of a stranger as "an inextricable confusion":
There appears to be no design in the composition, little sense of order, no central culminating point, scant feeling for proportion, no just estimation of values, no salient features -- nothing, in short, by which [the stranger] may get a grip of the thing! an inextricable confusion; a prodigious tangle!
But the confusion is not so badly confounded after all, presupposing that sympathy and respectful attention are exercised. The student will then gradually discern more and more of order within the chaos, and will find that, in common with all human productions, this noble volume is explainable and explicable without great difficulty in accordance with the genius of the people to whom it owes its origin. For the Jewish Prayer Book is what it is because its compilers and contributors were what they were. Its pages completely exhibit well marked features of Jewish character.1
It is our purpose to examine the structure and content of the Jewish liturgy as it had developed by the end of the first century, when Gamaliel's work was completed. Our approach will be, as G. E. Biddle suggested, sympathetic and respectful. But we must stress at the outset that the rabbis were not systematic